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The Gift Of Life

February 3, 2013

Guest Editor : Scott Dyer

(Apologies for the double post)

This morning at 1 am, the nurse awakened Pam with the news we have been waiting for: a set of donor lungs was available for transplant.    Pam phoned me, and her sister Sue and I went to the hospital immediately.    After further tests, they told us that the lungs were very suitable and that surgery would proceed at 5 am.   We spent the next two hours with Pam – she was afraid but very ready for this next journey.

Image Pam and Sue

 Image

Pam is rolled into the Operating Room at 5:00 am, February 3, 2013

One of the transplant fellows, “Mariska,”  came to tell us that the surgeon Kazuhiro Yasufuku would perform the transplant.   This is the same surgeon that visited us when Pam was accepted into the transplant program at the beginning of September.   She said that we would talk to the surgeon after the operation but that it would last 6-12 hours.

At 5 am the orderly came to retrieve Pam, and Sue and I walked down to the surgical portal with her.    After our tearful goodbyes, she disappeared down the hallway into surgery.

We weren’t sure where to wait – so we wandered around Toronto General, alternating between the Surgical ICU on 10  and the Surgery Waiting room on 3.   Around noon a nurse/orderly came into the Surgery Waiting room looking for another family, but knew about Pam’s surgery and told us a) it was going well and b) thus far Pam had not required cardiopulmonary bypass.   She said that the first lung was complete.   This was all great news.

Around 2pm, Merrill Pierce (a close friend) showed up for support, having driven down from Fenelon Falls.

At 315 pm, Dr. Yasufuku came into the waiting room.  He had been looking for us in various waiting rooms around the hospital.   He confirmed a successful surgery.   Pam’s lungs had been in very bad shape, and during the surgery, she had been placed on an artificial lung (called ECLS).  However, her heart remained strong and she was not placed on cardio bypass, which is a good thing.   He was upbeat.   The surgery lasted less than 9 hours – very good for a double lung transplant.

At 4 pm, we went into the ICU to see Pam.  We had been prepped to expect to see her surrounded by equipment.   But through all of the machines, we saw only Pam – who was sleeping quietly.   She was on the ventilator.  Her nurse, also named Pam, was absolutely wonderful.  She explained the procedures and equipment, and told us that Pam was doing amazingly well and that they would begin to wean her from the ventilator immediately.   And while we watched – they did just that, changing the system to assist Pam’s natural breathing rather than force it.   And suddenly, Pam was breathing on her own – her first real deep breaths in more than 6 months and the first with her new lungs.

The image below is from the ICU monitor …note two things.   The bottom graph, marked SPO, is the oxygen percentage of her blood.  The number is 100.  Midway up is a graph line called PA2, which is the pulmonary (lung) blood pressure.  Before the operation it was 80, because of her scarred lungs.  Now it is 21, a textbook value.

Image

Truly Pam has received the gift of life.  Thanks to all of you for your love and support.   We still have a journey ahead of us, but life looks very different today.

Sign your organ donor cards!

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30 Comments
  1. Frank Manzo permalink

    That graph is one of the most beautiful pictures I’ve ever seen. Amazing news. Here’s to a speedy recovery.

  2. robbmitchell permalink

    Incredibly good news! This is exactly what we’ve been waiting for months to hear. Pam is one tough and amazing woman and I know many people routing for her, thinking about her and praying for her. Reading the paragraph where you describe her being taken off the ventilator and breathing on her own, I must admit, made me tear up also while clinching a fist and pumping it while shouting. “Yes! Yes!” Much more to come, I’m sure but this a awesome news to read.

  3. Robin stone permalink

    Hi Pam and Scott. I am a friend of Merrill’s and have been following your story through her reports. I was thrilled to receive such happy texts from get yesterday regarding your transplants and the wonderful news that you were breathing on your own. I wish you a speedy and full recovery, and a life filled with energy, laughter and the joy of easy breathing.

  4. Mike Fallows permalink

    Damn!! This is so fantastic!

  5. Susie Grondin permalink

    Soooooooooo incredibly happy! Wishing you a good and speedy recovery! Big hug xox

  6. Dan & Julia permalink

    Wonderful news! Scott thanks for the update. Hope all continues to go well.

  7. Carlos permalink

    Very awesome news! Wishing you a speedy recovery!

  8. Hailey permalink

    Pam,
    So excited to have heard the news from Mom yesterday! Joyful tears for sure! I am thankful that so many family and friends have been praying for you for such a long time now and they have been answered. Your strength and hope is so inspiring. Hugs and kisses to you!

  9. Bob and Liz Stroh permalink

    The best news EVER! Best wishes…many blessings and prayers for a quick and speedy recovery!!! XOXO

  10. Karen Saunders permalink

    Fantastic news!!!!! May the road to recovery begin in earnest now. xok

  11. Vittoria permalink

    Words can’t even describe how happy I am. This news made my year. God bless you both!!

  12. Michael, Sina, and Alycia permalink

    Pam, we couldn’t be more elated for your gift of life. Your strength, determination, and patience is remarkable. Scott, you are a true life partner for Pam and have deserved this great news for months. Sue, thank you for being there with Pam and Scott. We look forward to hearing Pam’s progress.

  13. Beth permalink

    Great News!!! Prayers continuing for all. What Joy it was to read your post Scott!! Godspeed with recovery.

  14. Kay Jackson permalink

    What a day! So many people were embracing you with loving thoughts and prayers–friends, family and people you have never met. And with every update the joy grew and grew! As I read the line in the post that during surgery “her heart remained strong” it occurred to me that that is the real essence of this journey. You are a woman of such great heart, determination and courage. It is what will make your next steps successful. We’re always there to take those steps with you.
    Love, Kay

  15. Corinne Kouper permalink

    It is a fantastic day:-) we are so happy for you today Pam & Scott! Big Hugs from Paris. Guilaume & Corinne

  16. Mary Davis permalink

    Dear Pam and Sue:
    I am so very very happy for all of you. All the prayers have been answered but we will continue until you are home and on your own. Congratulations. May God help you in your recovery and may you have the same success I have had….. God Bless. Mary Davis

  17. Marcy Brown permalink

    Dennis and I are weepy in Los Angeles. To have the gal we knew as so full of life be restored to life? Huge. We are so so happy.

    And no worries, we have had our donor cards signed since before Dennis’s Dad got a new heart – that let him dance at our wedding.

    Miracles happen. Hooray!

  18. Alexa Murphy permalink

    Amazing news! Our hearts are over flowing with gratitude for Pam’s new lungs! We will continue to keep Pam in our thoughts and prayers as she begins another chapter- recovery. Get well soon, Pam.
    A huge thank you to Scott for updating us. We hope that you too are recovering from this stressful ordeal. Lots of love to you- Alexa and Doug

  19. Cynthia Taylor permalink

    Such wonderful news. We are all with you!!!!

    Cynthia +1.416.400.6480 Skype: cynthiataylor1 http://www.loonfilms.ca

  20. Eric & Susan permalink

    Wishing you all the best for a speedy recovery! It will be a wonderful moment when you awake and feel what breathing normal again is!

  21. Laurie Wilson permalink

    So so so happy for Pam!!!!! Terrie has been keeping me posted…Sending much love and positive energy from Santa Fe! Big hugs from Laurie and Hersch Wilson

  22. Nadine/Scott/Gabi/Bea permalink

    This is the most extraordinary news. Thank you so much for letting us know Scott. Brought tears of happiness and relief. We all celebrated for you and Pam here in LA. Keeping you in our thoughts and prayers. We love you both. xo vdv-Krafts

  23. Neil permalink

    Great News- Answered prayers! Good luck from here on! Neil A.

  24. Mary Beth Schmidt permalink

    What an amazing day this is. Words cannot express how we are all feeling. The tears are flowing because we know that the journey we are all taking with you is one step closer. Pam, you never lost your brave and positive attitude and now it has paid off. YOU are one hell of a fighter and the most courageous person I know. You have been given the gift of life today and I hope every day gets a little easier for you with every new breath you take. Hugs and Kisses, Mary Beth

  25. John and Shannon Stroh permalink

    Such awesome news! Way to hold onto hope you guys.

    We are excited to hear what Pam has planned for her new life.

  26. Keep up the good work!!! There may be a wedding for you to attend in April!!!

  27. Thank you, Scott for sharing this wonderful news! My thoughts and prayers go out to both of you for the journey ahead.

  28. Frank Taylor permalink

    That is such good news! Thank you so much for letting us all know, Scott. While, as you’ve explained to me, the recovery is a long process not without challenges, this is a real new beginning for Pam. She’s got a lot of people rooting for her, including Julie and me up here in Ottawa. The thought of her new lungs starting to breathe for her so efficiently brought tears to our eyes. Our best wishes to Pam, to you and Sue and the rest of your friends and family near at hand, and to her family in the US. This must be such an enormous relief for everyone. Warmest thoughts to all of you.

  29. Kelly McManus permalink

    HUZZAH! YAY! Sending you loads of love and hugs and brand new breaths! GO PAMMY!

  30. Eddy permalink

    Pam, you are an amazing woman. Know there are tears of joy around the world today. Much love and prayers for a quick recovery..

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